Sociology- Demography

AS Sociology Unit 1- Family & Households: Demography.

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  • Created by: Pheebie
  • Created on: 09-04-12 12:04

Births- Fertility Rate

  • The UK's Fertility rate has hit an all time low of 1.63 in 2001.
  • More women are remaining childless than in the past.
  • Average age to have first child is now 29.6yrs old.
  • Older women are less fertile therefore have fewer fertile years remaining and will not be able to larger families.
  • The UKs Fertility rate has reduced alot- in the 1960s it reached a peak of 2.94 (durin the baby boom)


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Reasons for Decline in Birth Rate

  • Changes in the position of women- Legal equality with men. More equality at home and in the workplace.
  • Decline in Infant mortality- Fewer children born as less are 'expected' to die.
  • Children have become and economic liability- It's expensive to raise children (0-21years= £1/4 million.) 
  • Child centred family- Childhood is a socially important time. This has encouraged a shift towards 'quality' from 'quantity.'


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Effects of Changes in Fertility

  • The Family- Smaller family= both men and women can go to work however bigger families may be well off so can still afford childcare and go to work.
  • Dependency Ratio- The reducing number of children= reduce in burden on tax payer HOWEVER fewer children= fewer people in future workforce so dependency ratio increases.
  • Public Services & Policies- Fewer schools and maternity wards. Also impacts on housing being built. It may come down to political decisions e.g. instead of fewer schools, smaller class sizes.


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Decline in Death Rate

N.L. Tranter (1996) 

  • 3/4 decline in death rate from about 1850-1970
  • Due to medical advancement meaning decline in infectious diseases e.g. small pox, measles, scarlet fever, flu, typhoid and diphtheria.
  • By 1950s diseases of affluence had taken over e.g. CHD or cancer.
  • In 1900 the death rate was 19 by 2007 it had fallen to almost 10.


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Reasons for decline in Death Rate

  • Improved Nutrition- Thomas McKeown (1972) These account for halving the death rate. It reduced resistance to disease.
  • Medical Improvements- Advancement in surgery, antibiotics, immunisation and maternity services since the 1950's.
  • Public health measures and environmental improvements- Local government pass and enforce new laws including housing improvements.
  • Other Social Changes- Decline in dangerous manual jobs, smaller families mean a reduced rate of transmission, greater knowledge of causes of illness and higher income allows healthier lifestyles.


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Life Expectancy

  • Males born in 1900 could expect to live until they were 50 (57 for females.)
  • Males born in 2003-05 can expect to live until they were 76.9 (81.2 for females)

Life expectancy increase by about every 2 years per decade.

There are still class, gender and regional differences e.g.

  • North UK/ South UK divide.
  • Females have higher life expectancy than males.
  • If you're from a higher class you're expected to live longer.


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Ageing Population

Average age in UK in 2007 was 39.6 years- this is set to continue to rise.

The ageing population is a result of:

  • Increased life expectancy.
  • Decline in infant mortality.
  • Decline in fertility rate.


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Effects of an ageing population

  • Public services.
  • One-person pensioner households.
  • The dependency ratio.

Social problems- Griffiths Report (1988)  Society  saw the elderly as a problem due to escalating health and social care costs for the elderly. 

Hirsch (2005)- A number of policies will need to change- main problem is financing elderly e.g. paying more from savings or taxes or working longer. 


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The majority of migration out of the UK to the USA and old common wealth countries (e.g. Canada, Australia & New Zealand) since 1900.

This had been for mainly for economic reasons e.g. those countries needed a labour force. 

It also was to boost ties with commonwealth countries.


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